Archives for March 2016

RIP, Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica

Easter Sunday, late afternoon, God called Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation home. We lost a truly amazing woman on this side of eternity, but her work will live on for a very long time.

Mother Angelica was, of course, the foundress of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) and a whole lot more. Her calling was evangelization of the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith…   simply the truth of Christ. When modernism reared its ugly head to reinterpret that truth, she refused to remain silent. This got her in serious trouble with powerful bishops. Suffice to say, she was right and they were wrong. The Body of Christ has been strengthened through Mother’s steadfast faith and determination.

Mother Angelica was unique, but her life and work bring to mind several other people.

First, for the impact of God’s work through her in modern times, I would not hesitate to compare Mother Angelica to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Their charisms were very different, but their holiness, struggles, faith and impact are immeasurable.

Second, her work in television and her own Mother Angelica Live show draw obvious comparisons to the extraordinary work of Venerable Fulton Sheen. Both were incredible evangelists, creating powerful ministries from nothing, true servants of the Lord. Bishop Sheen too suffered through famous conflicts with powerful hierarchy, particularly Cardinal Francis Spellman. Similarly, (now disgraced and removed from all public duties) Cardinal Roger Mahoney viciously fought Mother Angelica.

Third, moving back in history a little (14th century) there is St. Catherine of Siena who effectively chided 2 popes (Pope Gregory XI and Pope Urban VI) when necessary. It takes bravery to step outside your comfort zone, challenge rightful authority when they err, at the risk of serious consequences. The Holy Spirit worked abundantly through St. Catherine and worked similarly through Mother Angelica.

Much has been written about Mother and her life. I recommend Raymond Arroyo’s Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles. For some quick, online pieces see:

In your charity, please remember to pray for her soul.

Finally, my wife and I were fortunate to visit both EWTN and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last month. Below are some of my pictures.

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Easter

Easter 2012

O God, who on this day,
through your Only Begotten Son,
have conquered death
and unlocked for us the path to eternity,
grant, we pray, that we who keep
the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection
may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit,
rise up in the light of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Good Friday

Good Friday 2015

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last. The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.”

When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

Elsewhere: 100 million Obamacare exemptions

Elsewhere

You may be aware that the Little Sisters of the Poor have taken their case to the Supreme Court. They are opposed to cooperating with the evil of funding abortifacients and contraceptives in Obamacare and applied for an exemption as a religious organization. It was denied essentially because the Obama administration does not consider them religious enough to qualify.

These are habited, women religious living in community. They provide care to 13,000 elderly poor. They wish only to continue doing that in peace, without being forced into immoral acts. 20 judges have already sided with them in similar cases. Over 200 Members of Congress (bipartisan) and leaders of other religions have too. The Obama administration is intransigent, threatening to crush them under $70,000,000 in fines (every year) unless they cave on their Catholic morality.

While the Little Sisters are being put through a proverbial legal wringer, it is smooth sailing for friends of the administration. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, IBM, Visa, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Home Depot, Boeing, New York City and the entire US Military are all exempted. All together over 1,200 corporations and unions have exemptions. Also exempted are Barack Obama and his family, the entire US Congress and their families, the Justice Department and their families, the Supreme Court and their families, all federal judges and their families. In fact, 1/3 of all Americans have received exemptions from Obamacare — but not the Little Sisters of the poor.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is defending the sisters’ religious freedom.

Resources:

This is so over-the-top, so outrageous that I have to think it is a distraction to keep attention off of something else.

Elsewhere: Spotlight (the movie)

Elsewhere

There is a special kind of political correctness applied to the sexual abuse scandal. The unwritten rules require speakers and writers to:

  • Start by acknowledging how horrible it is. This is valid, it is horrible for the victims and the scandal has impacted the Great Commission given to his Church by Christ.
  • Never mention the homosexual under­pinnings of the problem.
  • Do not mention how effective reforms have been (if always imperfect).
  • Do not dare mention how the problem is hugely worse in other religious and non-religious (especially public school) organizations.
  • …and NEVER, EVER suggest innocent priests are forced to falsely confess or are in prison.

The point of the PC policy is to undermine and marginalize the Church and her teaching of the truth, especially on marriage, sexuality and life. It certainly has nothing to do with truth or justice. Prosecutors can build careers going after “pedophile priests” and the biased, unquestioning media will closely and widely follow every development. In many (probably most) cases those charged are guilty and should be punished. Unfortunately as I have noted before (see falsely accused and throw away the key), a significant number of good priests charged with horrible crimes are not guilty, are greatly harmed and often imprisoned (sometimes for decades) by this injustice.

Many faithful Catholics found the movie “Spotlight” to be fair, considering our very low expectations. Yet the movie is quite far from an accurate historical documentary. They took many “liberties” to slant history. A serious problem was exposed (good), but the Boston Globe ran with it to develop, then fan, a lynch mob mentality in the public. There is no justice in a lynch mob.

The last place I expected to find any fair commentary on this is in a solidly left-wing publication. I am therefore immensely encouraged by an article written by JoAnn Wypijewski and published by CounterPunch. Justice should be a non-partisan issue and justice has not been served. Wypijewski and CounterPunch are to be commended for their courage.

I don’t believe the claims of all who say they are victims – or who prefer the more tough-minded label ‘survivor’ – because ready belief is not part of a journalist’s mental kit, but also because what happened in 2002 makes it difficult to distinguish real claims from fraudulent or opportunistic ones without independent research. What editor Marty Baron and the Globe sparked with their 600 stories and their confidential tip line for grievances was not laudatory journalism but a moral panic, and unfortunately for those who are telling the truth, truth was its casualty.

By their nature, moral panics are hysterical. They jettison reason for emotion, transform accusation into proof, spur more accusation and create a climate that demands not deliberation or evidence or resistance to prejudice but mindless faith.

They are the enemy of skepticism, which those on the left and near-left, liberals, progressives, regard as the sword and shield of journalism when it’s convenient or ideologically appealing. The Globe did not so much practice journalism as it constructed a courtroom of panic, one that reversed the presumption of innocence and spilled over into real courtrooms where real defendants didn’t stand a chance.

In 2002 I investigated only one case, but it was a doozy: that of Father Paul Shanley, who figures in Spotlight and who was declared a “depraved priest” by the Globe‘s editorial page of April 9, 2002, the day after a PowerPoint show put on for the press by personal injury lawyer Eric MacLeish. Shanley is now imprisoned for crimes that are heinous in description and absolutely unsupported by evidence.

Since then I have followed the case of another priest: Father Gordon MacRae of New Hampshire, who does not figure in the film. He was accused, tried and convicted in 1994, a time when Spotlight would have you believe that every sexual accusation against a priest either fell on deaf ears or was handled in a hush-hush settlement, and every playground, church and rectory was a hunting ground for the great Whore of Babylon. MacRae remains imprisoned for crimes that are only slightly less heinous in description and absolutely unsupported by evidence.

Both men were called monsters. Both men were offered plea deals by their respective prosecutors that, had they actually committed the crimes, would be an affront to justice and proportion. Shanley was offered time served – the seven months he’d been jailed while awaiting trial – plus two and a half years” house arrest if only he’d say he was guilty of raping a child on Sunday mornings between Masses. MacRae was offered three years in prison, later reduced to two, if only he’d say he was guilty of cruelly molesting a teenager. Both men refused and went to their fates abandoned by church hierarchy.

“Can you imagine,” Shanley said to me after his conviction in 2005, “here I am, the worst monster, a danger to children everywhere, and they offer me time served? …   But for refusing to lie, I got twelve to fifteen years.”

The piece is big (this quote a small part of it), is good and does not mince words. Read the whole thing: Oscar Hangover Special: Why “Spotlight” Is a Terrible Film.

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